Rhytom Okros from Windermere volunteered in the 2011 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. This year's local event is taking place on Saturday (September 15).

Join Canadians coast to coast in nationwide cleanup

Celebrating its 19th anniversary, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup will take place from September 15 to 23.

There’s nothing like walking along the beautiful shores of Lake Windermere at sunset only to come across empty beer can and cigarette butts that someone has thoughtlessly tossed to the ground. This type of untoward behaviour eventually gave rise to a nationwide event known as The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup to ensure that waterways and shorelines stay healthy for the wildlife and communities that depend on them.

Celebrating its 19th anniversary, this national effort will take place from September 15 to 23, and it will be the second year the event has been spearheaded locally by the Lake Windermere Ambassadors, the group mandated to protect Lake Windermere. Kirsten Harma, the program co-ordinator for the group, wants to get as many people out to Kinsman Beach on Saturday (September 15) as possible to help collect even more litter than what the ambassadors recorded last year — 270 kilograms, or 595 pounds, of trash.

“There was some heavy stuff! Tires, also some metal bits from CP Rail by the Cavalry Beach site,” said Harma, “and then another thing is the cigarette butts always win in terms of numbers of pieces.”

Pieces of docks that had been blown apart during the winter were also discovered along the beach, she said.

In 2011, the national event removed 143,737 kilograms, or 316,886 pounds, of litter from Canada’s shorelines with the top five litter items being cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic bags, caps and lied, and plastic beverage bottles.

To anyone who participates in the cleanup, Harma will hand out medical gloves, a garbage bag and a collection form. The form is for recording what items are picked up and how many, and last year people tended to work in pairs, with one person picking up and the other completing the form, which collects the data for the national statistics.

Snorkels and wetsuits will also be provided to encourage kids and adults alike to partake in some underwater litter removal.

“So the warmer the water the better,” laughed Harma. “Other people can walk happily along in their warm dry clothes.”

Interested participants are asked to meet on Saturday at Kinsman Beach at 10 a.m. rain or shine. Collection efforts should get underway by 10:30 a.m. and be done by 1 p.m., at which point everyone will be treated to Tim Hortons doughnuts.

Harma will be sending some of the group to James Chabot Provincnial Park as well, which actually receives the majority of the litter because it’s at the downstream end of the lake.

Community associations with private beach access are also encouraged to get involved by organizing their own group, as was done last year by the Tretheway Beach Association, which completed their own data collection form.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a conservation initiative by the Vancouver Aquarium and the World Wildlife Fund, and is presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, the largest food retailer in the country. For more information, visit www.shorelinecleanup.ca. To register in the local effort and  join other Canadians in the coast to coast clean up, contact Harma at 250-341-6898 or info@lakeambassadors.ca.